you’re approaching your baby's birth, there’s a lot
you will need to remember. But as far as what you can expect, every
woman is different, and every woman's experience is unique. Signs
that indicate your body is getting ready for labor include:
- You may begin to “nest”—energetically prepare
for the baby’s arrival.
- Your baby will move down lower into your pelvis. It is often
said that the baby "drops," giving your cramped lungs
and stomach a bit more space.
- Your vaginal fluid may become thicker, you may lose your mucous
plug, and notice a blood-tinged pinkish or brownish vaginal discharge.
- You may notice a change in your bowel movements, even diarrhea—your
body is cleaning out your bowel and preparing for delivery.
- Your membranes rupture—this means that your “water
breaks.” This may happen anytime during labor. If you are
at home when this happens, call your provider.
Although you have been having contractions throughout your pregnancy,
changes in your contractions may be a sign that you are beginning
labor. It’s important to know how to identify an early labor
contraction from what are known as practice contractions. Labor
contractions will become more regular, stronger, last longer and
get closer together. Be patient as you wait for all of these changes
to signal true labor. Labor contractions usually start as an aching
in the lower back, moving around to your lower abdomen. Ask your
provider for advice on when to call once you think you are in labor,
and when to plan on arriving at the hospital. If you can’t
tell if your contractions are indicating true labor, you should
call your provider.
There are times that your care provider may recommend starting
your labor artificially. This is called an induced labor. Labor
may be induced when there are concerns for the health of the mother
or her baby. Ask your provider to explain the reasons for induction
and how your labor will be induced.
Warning Signs During Labor
Be sure to ask your provider about signs to watch for
that may indicate problems in labor.
Your Birth Care Plan
Each mother, and sometimes her partner, has expectations about the birth of
her baby. In order to help those who will be with you in labor, you may want
to put these expectations in writing as your “birth care plan.” You
can give this document to your provider so that she or he can review your
wishes. Items you may want to include in your birth care plan are:
- Personalizing your delivery environment (music, pictures, pillows)
- Who will be present for delivery (partner, older children,
- Pain relief measures (including "hydrotherapy"—using
warm water to help relieve tired or sore muscles)
- Cesarean birth
- Breastfeeding immediately after birth
- Baby’s care provider
Click below to read about related topics.
What to Expect
Pain & Pain Relief
Premature Labor &